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New York: Bullet #26
The world was burned. Apocalypse finally transpired – the entire world smothered in mushroom clouds and smoking radiation. People, buildings, love, and life reduced to ash and air. Life as we knew it (if we ever did, I can’t tell anymore) was extinguished. The terrorist organizations of the world collaborated to kill with their weapons of mass destruction.
The day was April 23, 2014, when the instruments of fire careened from the bloodthirsty crafts of men. My shelter in Southern Manhattan shook, everything we knew had held dear killed instantly. Our shelter, shared by neighbors, was not fully proofed from radiation. Soon, the burning fallout seeped in.
I was not killed!
My mother, my father, my 3 sisters, rotted alive.
Why didn’t I die!?
For weeks, I lived underground in my life’s tomb, eating the neighborhoods supplies. They rotted before me. I could feel the vitality seeping from their bones, their cells dying, dying!
Why was I spared!?
My name is Lead. I am alive in New York. Manhattan is a corpse. New York was once an ugly place, but it was home. No, it is destroyed; murdered by our enemies. We fought back. Oh, we bombed them to hell. But now, I am alive in this carcass, this dead New York.
I have benecancer-syndrome, a thyroid condition causing my cells to reproduce at 10 times the speed of a normal person. I was spared the cell-killing effects of radiation sickness. Should I be thankful? Sometimes I wish I were dead. But no, those reproducing cells have landed me in this carcass, like maggots in a dead horse.
I live in a vent. Just large enough to fit into, it keeps me safe. Somewhat. It stinks. It smells, oh, it reeks of death and sweat and blood and anger. It is home. My home. A hole, a vent in the wall, to push the stale dead air around.
Who’d name their child Lead? No-one. My name is Allen Carter. I am not the only maggot in this horse. There are others who share this curse. They call me Lead. Maybe because I am heavy, because I am skinny (like a stick of lead), or maybe I just seem Lead-ish. I don’t care.
Outside, the sky is red, as always. It is a wall, blocking the world from heaven and the stars. The sun creeps through the haze. It doesn’t warm anymore. It just burns my face. The alley in which I walk is shrouded by crumbling buildings. It always feels like it’s closing in, like a boa, trying to crush the life from me.
My rifle is heavy in my hands, ready to poke a hole in any enemy I see. Enemy, or prey; the distinction has faded. Food is more than scarce, and the only way to eat is to kill. Suddenly, a rock shifted nearby, a beacon. Food! My stomach growled in anger. The ravenous, insatiable hunger clawing at my guts responded to that rock. I slip a bullet into the chamber of the rifle, pushing the cartridge into the barrel with the bolt in one smooth action. It was ready to poke a hole in my meal, to kill it. My 26th bullet was ready.
Around the corner, I snaked my eyes around. A person, a sane, breathing person. It was digging away at the rubble. She! She was a Scavenger, those other people. I stalked slowly, moving with the dead walls and rubble. She was beautiful. Another person, like me, a survivor of the holocaust, here, in this city. She was beautiful, like a fancy gourmet plate or a decorated bowl of stew. Her hair was soft, black, but mangled, hanging over her subtly lovely face that was stained by ashes. She was wrapped in rags and discarded clothes.
I stalked, hugging the wall and the shadows, a bedraggled ugly tiger, stalking the lone white swan. I moved closer. Food! She. I walked, slowly, ready to shoot, but also ready to run and hug and talk. A deer in headlights, a salivating tiger, closer and closer. She, It turned, looking surprised and horrified, and I squeezed the trigger.
An explosion of light, and the bullet ripped the air. She let out a scream,
(No! I shot her, no)
(Ha, that’s why they call me Lead)
and fell, and I ran up, kneeling down, ready to (prepare my meal) help her live. She was on the rubble, lying there, looking neither dead nor alive. She was hit on the arm; thank God it was only a flesh wound,
(damn, need to steady my aim)
she will live. The woman looked up at me. Her eyes were fatally disappointed and miserable. She wasn’t ready to die. My eyes began to water
(too bad you aren’t ready skank)
as I saw her. “Don’t kill me.” said She. Words! Someone talking to me! Not a bandit or a dead-brained a** but a woman who wasn’t angry but wanted to live! I pulled her to me and cried, crying tears built up from years in this corpse in New York.